Using African medicinal plants for low-cost medicines

Autor*in: Jörg Heeren

When people in Cameroon suffer from malaria and other parasitic infectious diseases, they often cannot afford treatment – the imported synthetic medicines cost a lot of money. The graduate school YaBiNaPA of Bielefeld University and the University Yaoundé I in Cameroon aims to remedy this. research_tv presents the project.

The 20 doctoral students, supported by ten visiting doctoral students [from other Cameroonian universities or further African countries, are analysing medicinal plants that are used in traditional African medicine. „Most of the Cameroonian population trust and rely on traditional African medicine which is very rich in plant derived medicine,“ says chemist Professor Dr Norbert Sewald of Bielefeld University. He is the German coordinator of the graduate school. The goal of the analyses is to find inexpensive plant-based drugs that are effective against parasitic and bacterial diseases. The natural drugs will be produced directly in Cameroon and will be inexpensive.

However, the project is not just about identifying and harnessing medical agents. The cooperation also aims to strengthen the interdisciplinary education of doctoral students. This involves also expanding the local experimental infrastructure in Yaoundé. The „Yaoundé Bielefeld Bilateral Graduate School Natural Products with Antiparasite and Antibacterial Activity“ (YaBiNaPA) is being funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in the period from 2016 until 2020.